Books:Greg Keyes Novels/Colin Vineben
|Profession||Penitus Oculatus Inspector|
|Featured in||The Infernal City
Lord of Souls
His initiation into the Penitus Oculatus involved the elimination of a man. He approached the man on the bridge and, as the foot-traffic thinned, engaged him in conversation. They spoke of Anvil, and of a tavern there with dark beer; The Undertow. The man appeared to mistake Colin for someone else, and began speaking to him of a book, Astorie, before noticing the knife in Colin's hand and screaming as Colin attacked. It was a clumsy kill, slicing into the man's hands, arms, and abdomen as he struggled and questioned before Colin was able to cut his throat. Two other Inspectors, Arcus and Khasha, help him heave the corpse into the river and chastise him for his carelessness before announcing to him that though it was "sloppy", he accomplished his task and had become an Inspector. The next day, Intendant Marall gave Colin his official papers and asked after Colin's well-being. In response to Colin's questions, the Intendant reminded Colin that it was not his place to question why his targets were targeted.
After the Prince's disappearance, Colin was sent to the scene of the slaughter of the Prince's personal guard. He instructed his men in the first steps of routing people away from the incident and searching for witnesses. Among the bodies, he found a young man partially burnt and beheaded, and wearing the signet ring of the Crown Prince. Expressing to himself that he felt it was too convenient to be authentic, he informed the leader of the expedition, Captain Pundus, that he was now in charge by the order of the Emperor's signature on a scroll he showed to him. After giving the captain some instructions, he triggered his ability to see and speak with spirits, and saw two at the scene. The first, a man, seemed to be too disturbed to be of any help. The second, a woman staring down at her own body, explained that they were traveling to Black Marsh. She wasn't sure of the purpose, something about an army of undead and a flying city, and she admitted she didn't listen closely since his quests were always made safe by others. At the end of their conversation, she told Colin that there was "something wrong" with him, and told him to think of her the next time he sees a willow.
Back in the Imperial City, Colin was unexpectedly questioned by the Emperor regarding what he had found. He admitted that he thought the headless body recovered with the Prince's ring was not the Prince, which the Emperor appeared to agree with. After the meeting, in a tavern in the Imperial City's Market District, he met his old friend Nial Sextius. They discussed the disappearance of the Prince; Colin learned that Gulan, Attrebus' adviser and assistant, would have reported Attrebus' plans to the Prime Minister's office and not directly to the Emperor.
Though Colin had been pulled from the Attrebus investigation, he continued investigating. He followed the last person Gulan had spoken to, Letine Arese, an assistant to the Prime Minister, as she made her way deep into the Market District and entered a building, where Colin climbed a nearby building in order to reach a third-story window. He entered a small empty bedroom and made his way downstairs until he heard voices. Arese and a male voice were speaking, and she seemed concerned that the "job" was not accomplished as it should have been. Colin learned that a courier brought news to the Emperor that the Prince lived. As their conversation escalated, though Colin could not see what was happening, it seemed that Arese changed form into a sort of beast before he heard the screams of the men. As the presence moved through the building, Colin kept his gaze on the floor since he knew if he saw it he would lose control. It moved past him, up the stairs, then a few moments later came back down and exited through the door. The building was burning, and Colin escaped through the window. Unable to search the house, he wondered why Arese wanted the Prince dead, and why she didn't accomplish the task herself. He also wondered, of course, whether she was working alone or not - a dangerous question.
He was later abducted by two unidentified men and rescued by Arese. She revealed that the men were working for her, but she killed them to avoid them becoming suspicious. She showed him a small wolf tattoo, the branding of Emperor Titus Mede, and told him that she was placed in Minister Hierem's office ten years before. She then convinced Colin to help her find out what the minister was doing, as Hierem was the one who had ordered the ambush on Attrebus.
Colin was summoned by Intendant Marall, who asked if Colin had found any connection between Umbriel and the Thalmor. Marall suspected that they may have summoned it, but Colin had found no evidence, and he asked if he could investigate the rumors that it came from Black Marsh; Marall agreed. Colin found Letine Arese afterward and told her that Hierem's office had censored records on Umbriel in Black Marsh. She replied that he'd taken a secret trip there and that the only person he traveled with, Delia Huerc, was dead. Colin wondered why Hierem might want Umbriel to attack the Imperial City.
He broke into Delia Huerc's former residence and found her ghost there. She pointed at a floorboard, and he found her journal underneath. The entries described how Hierem had performed some sort of ritual with the An-Xileel at the Lilmoth city tree: it involved magic and the word "Umbriel". He decided to wait for Arese and tell her what he had learned, and intercepted a Dark Brotherhood assassin waiting for her; she saved him from the second one. They ended up making love and afterward she suggested that he could get out of this line of work, but he insisted that he wanted to do something right. After he reported to her, he offered to speak to the Emperor on her behalf, and she told him that her code word with the Emperor was "jasper". Using the code word he arranged a private meeting with the Emperor and told him of his suspicions and gave him Delia's journal. Mede ordered him to find more substantial proof that they could show the council and gave him a key to Hierem's rooms, and told him that they were delivered a letter from the ruler of Umbriel: that they and the other inhabitants of the Imperial City would be allowed to leave in peace if the city itself was left for Umbriel.
Colin visited the library of the Penitus Oculatus and spoke to the librarian, Professor Aronil, about a spiritlike creature that had attacked him when in Delia Huerc's former apartment. Aronil told him it was a type of daedra, and that the knowledge to summon it by this time resided in a single book - a book that, according to a spell upon the library, was last touched by Hierem. Colin brought Letise to a hidden lair under the Ministry where she could hide until Colin found the proof he needed. He entered Minister Hierem's quarters through the secret door, and used an item called a "soul-maze" to trap a Daedra that Hierem had left in his room. He searched the room and found some papers containing a diagram and the word "Umbriel", so he copied them as best he could and brought them to Letine Arese. She told him she knew someone that could translate the runes, and he was concerned about her leaving considering the threat on her life, but she promised to be careful.
Colin met with Intendant Marall on top of the walls of the Imperial City. The Intendant told him that Umbriel would be arriving in two days, and that Attrebus was reportedly spotted being abducted in the Waterfront district a couple days before. He returned to the room where Letine Arese had been hiding, and five days after her disappearance she returned, but said that she was not able to find anything about Colin's diagrams. He told her he suspected that Hierem was holding Attrebus captive, and she decided to come along. Colin and Letine released Attrebus and Sul from their cages and they discussed what to do next. Attrebus told the others that he noticed a rat disappearing when Hierem returned, so he thought that if they stood on the sigil that Hierem had used to teleport, they'd be transported to Umbriel when he returns. Attrebus and Sul stood on it while Colin and Letine waited nearby, Sul replaced his usual sword with Umbra, and they waited.
When Hierem appeared back in his quarters, Colin attempted to kill him, but paused, suddenly remembering the man he had killed to join the Penitus Oculatus. Hierem hit him with a demoralizing spell, leaving Colin defenseless on the floor wrapped up in his own misery. Letine unsuccessfully tried to kill Hierem, and when Hierem nearly killed Letine, Colin found the strength to try and stop him. His attack distracted Hierem long enough a daedra that had been summoned to attack and kill him..Colin helped Letine up and she stabbed him in the ribs. She said only that she was owed something after ten years and that she was going to collect on it, stole the Daedric weapon that Hierem had been using, and left.
A badly wounded Colin followed Letise up the stairs of the White-Gold Tower. He commented that he'd realized that she meant to steal its power. She was stunned to find him still alive, and tells him that Hierem wanted to steal Umbriel's power to make him a god, and now she wanted the same. He threw the knife she'd used to stab him, and it hit her in the eye, killing her. Out the window the floating island was nearly close enough to touch the building when suddenly he saw it vanish. Colin slowly lost consciousness and died, finally at peace.